Step by Step Guide to Becoming an Actor

by Sarah Bennett

Man holding step by step sign

A career in the tinsel town is what many aspire for but what are the steps to get there?


A career in the tinsel town is what many aspire for, but few pursue. If you were to observe those few people closely you may see a striking similarity among everybody in terms of their attitude, hard work and commitment. It is true that an acting career requires more time and effort than is normally needed, but when one is willing to go that extra mile with all their will power and might, there is no stopping the fame and fortune the job brings along with it.

Not all actors are born performers and not everybody was given a red carpet welcome when they arrived to the business. You would find it hard to believe that most of the leading stars of Hollywood got their ticket to success after a lot of tears, toil and turmoil. If I were to tell you that Madonna had to work as a counter girl at Dunkin Donuts (source: careerbuilder.com) and Sharon Stone kicked off working at McDonald's (foxnews.com) you may find your jaw dropping. But this is the reality and the essence of this reality is that everybody needs to start somewhere.

While starting is one thing it is a matter of greater consequence how you proceed toward making your dream of becoming an actor come true. For this, one needs to do a lot of smart work along with a great deal of hard work. When I say smart work, it means a well researched, meticulously planned and tried out route which you can adapt to suit yourself to reach the desired goal. And it is smarter work when somebody has already done such ground work and you simply follow the guidelines and increase the probability of your success by leaps and bounds. I have complied below after carefully considering my several years of experience, a step by step guide of becoming an actor. Read on to know the right formula for becoming a hit in the glitter world sooner than you would have expected.

1. All actors must start small.
If you need to get into acting, first get going. Don't wait for you to be "discovered" by an agent or director for a multi million big buck project. These are just stories that the media writes to make money. In reality no one is actually discovered. If you were to look closer you will notice that those who were discovered had some considerable acting credit to their names earlier. So, the primary step is to just start off with whatever opportunity that comes your way.

2. Every popular actor started off at the bottom and worked up.
Most of the actors you find today would have started small and worked their way up to fame and fortune.

3. Beginning actors don't need talent agents.
Even talent agents have their choice in taking in their clients. As a beginner if you were to go hunting for a talent agent, you would be wasting time. Rather, I suggest you concentrate on getting roles yourself for a beginning. To do this, all it takes is perseverance and networking.

4. Locate quality jobs on your own.
Who can know better about you than yourself? You will know your strengths and weaknesses like nobody else does, so locate quality jobs yourself while at the early stages of your acting career.

5. New actors should start looking for jobs locally.
Don't just hop over to Hollywood the minute it strikes you that you have decided to become an actor. There are hundreds of smaller cities where the industry needs talent and where there are only a fewer people. Start locally and work your way to Hollywood.

6. The best experience is to perform in front of a crowd.
If you want an acid test of your talent, do a performance in front of a crowd. This is the best experience that you can get and if they are impressed and applaud every time you perform, there's no stopping you.

7. Build your resume.
After you have enough acting credits to your name, build a resume that is impressive and informative. Add each new performance to your acting resume and keep it updated and handy. Draft an equally impressive cover letter to go along with this resume and start applying to all good acting jobs that you come across.

8. Get headshots.
Get a good headshot of yours and ensure that it conveys a lot about you with just one look. Add such head shots to your application along with your resume and cover letter.

9. Network.
The other way of getting into good projects is to network, for this all you need to do is play the role of an angel - a person who is amicable, approachable and liked by everybody. You will soon realize that you are being recommended to projects when people you know hear of roles. To network you need to maintain good contacts with actors, directors, casting associates and agents.

10. Find a list of talent agents.
Now that you have grown to be known in the industry, it is time to pick a talent agent. Visit Internet sites that list talent agents and talk to them. Actingland.com is one such site where you will find a list of good and professional talent agents. Talk to the agents and settle down with one who suits you the best.

11. Keep acting.
These are the two words that you must keep chanting all the time. To make it big in the acting industry you need to keep acting and that too incessantly.
Copyright © Sarah Bennett. All rights reserved. Used with permission of the author. Not to be reproduced or distributed.
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Reader Comments

I am a 13 year old girl and i have always wanted to be an actor. My biggest dream is to be an actor and have people like me and know what i like doing and making knew friends and sharing my dream with them as well.

Posted by jennifer (2016-08-30) 7379

Acting has always been on my passion list and still is I believe I have what it takes to become a actor. I can do this!!!

Posted by Milly (2016-04-07) 7301

I m bery good in acting and dancing how i can start my life in bollywood

Posted by TARUN MISHRA (2015-07-20) 7194

Hi my name is Kilang A Pongen i really like the name 'Chris' iam 13 years old ...So i have been checking some sites and well probably found this site and i read it its 25:06:15 and i really am looking forward to Acting like in Hollywood, Song Artist and an Artist like painter career well my point is I really wanna become <- them as in my dreams . so yah can you help me?!!! :( :)?

Posted by Kilangapongen (2015-06-24) 7183

i am only young and have decided that ACTING IS MY ONE AND ONLY DREAM!!!!! i thought that if i were young that now would be a good time to start acting but living in a small town in Australia isn't a really good thing. i have had acting experience and have performed in front of large crowds so i have some experiences and i am hoping that these steps will help so thx!!

Posted by georgia (2014-10-20) 7066

I want to act i just like to act is what i want for who im

Posted by Ayanda (2014-07-11) 6910

I am 24 and acting has always been my dream. I have acted on stage single i was a Chile both in school and church. I have a lilttle bit of experience but i want to take it to the next level but i don't know how.

Posted by Ayorkor (2013-12-06) 6593

Hey! im 13 years old and seriously have no clue how to become an actress.i always dreamt of becoming an actress since i was about i dont know lets say uh... 8 ya ok, ... and well we dont go anywhere the only time we went someplace is from ontario to B.C, and i've been taking drama but i have terrible stage fright. alright not terrible its gotten better but its still pretty bad. im trying my best but i just dont know how to become an actress, and well ever since i watched this video on youtube by danisnotonfire where he says you should persue your dreams because you only live once, i totally agree with that... but i dont know how. yes i want to become an actress but i want to while im still young(16 or younger)because i dont want to be that ol' geaser that is just persuing their dreams, i want to now because you only live once(Y.O.L.O). and so all im saying is that acting isnt about the fame, fortune or even the talent... ok maybe the talent but to me its an adventure, an adventure im willing to take no matter how hard. i have no experience in acting, and have no clue what to do! so please help me to figure out my purpose in life, if acting is the thing for me or should i move onward and try something new like i dont know a pianist?

-Melissa

Posted by melissa (2013-05-27) 6488

Okay i know that drama schools and acintg classes and all that are wonderful, i'm already in a speech and drama academy. But what i want to know is how to improve at home, every single day. I love acintg it is my passion and my talent and the greatest feeling in the world and i don't mind working hours on end! What i need to know is how to improve. My family is too busy and my friends aren't allowed round my house whenever so getting someone to watch is difficult, plus i would prefer something other than great, i would prefer to get some constructive criticism. So what can i practice. I have come up with doing something different every week, for example-Voice-working on articulation, pronunciation, accents, emotion, projection ect.Lines-coming up with effective ways to remember scripts and such.Body language and gestures-like it sayacintg-doing monologues, short plays, maybe a tv episode.Knowledge-Getting to know stuff like blocking (already know that but won't hurt) fourth wall all the drama tech talk stuff.Of course i will merge it in together if the topic doesn't really cover a whole weak, and i will be doing other stuff aswell. So how can i practice this. If you could explain the drama tech talk stuff, how to work on voice and that and certain pointers and help in everything. Also help with how to remember lines would be nice, in fact do that!! Even just giving a website would be helpful!! Thanks!!!

Posted by Andrea (2012-03-13) 5646

hi my name is saadia and i am 18 years old i live in kentucky in a small town, i'm interested in acting,what do i have to do to become an actress, please email me back that would helpful,thank u.

Posted by saadia barre (2011-11-21) 5208

Hello,my name is Ta'Nya and I live in Alabama and I've always wanted to be an actress,im a good dancer,i can sing(a little more practice is needed though)and im always ready to act,sometimes i will even make up my own plays and act them out or I might even take what people say on television and act it out in my own way,ive been in many in plays at school.When im in plays i put all my heart,work,skill,time,and effort into my lines in the play.When im determined to do something i wont give up on it .I put all my heart,work,and effort in everything I do.I would do anything it takes to become an actress.It would mean more than the world to me to get any tips,help,or advice on what i should do to be that actress that ive been dreaming about my whole life.Please,Please,Please email me any tips or advice because that would mean more than anything to me and it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks :D

Posted by Ta'Nya (2011-07-17) 4068

hi i am Alexis.i have some talents like piano, guitar, and vocal. i would love to become famous.would you help me???? thank

Posted by alexis (2011-07-16) 4041

Hi, my names Esther and I am 14 years old. I live in Perth, Australia and I really want to start acting, but I don't know how to start. I have been in some small plays at school and had drama classes when I was young, but nothing major at all. I would appreciate it a great deal if you could email me back and give me some advice to help me out. Thank you in advance!

Posted by Esther (2011-07-15) 4008

i really wanna become an actor because my parents aren't that rich and i need help to make my dream come tru.

Posted by abuol.kuol (2011-07-09) 3930

Hi my names Mikayla and I'm 15 years old. I live in a very small town in Idaho and it's been my dream to be an actress since I was a little girl. I would love to take some acting classes, but unfortunately there aren't any out where I live. I had a plan of just taking off to L.A. after I graduate highschool, but I'm beginning to think that's a stupid idea. I've only been to L.A. a few times and I'm sure that I'd be totally lost in a city of millions of people when I come from a town of about 600 people. I'm worried that I'll go to L.A. and just end up wasting my time there. I have no idea how to survive in such a large city. What would you recommend? Is it ridiculous that I even want to be an actress? I don't want to give up on this dream, but I'm starting to think that maybe I should just forget about it and go to college instead. Please help me. You're advice would mean the world to me. Thanks

Posted by Mikayla (2011-06-19) 3387

Hi,I'm Christina, I'm 14 years old and I live in Greece
I don't have idea about to become an actress....is my dream...I do not know how to begin.. I see many movies and I look carefully at the movements of the actors and I do rehearse myself in my room..every day I look in the mirror and try to do different characters, namely that I should be sad, upset, shy, etc and movements of my body, but I believe that it is not enough, aren't you? ..what should I do to be better? please help me

Posted by Christina (2011-03-06) 2913

Hey, I'm Lily :) I'm thirteen years old.
I live in the Boston area in MA. I go to an acting camp every summer, and I really want to become an actress someday, but I can't figure out how to. I know that I'm still young, but I want to start looking early on. I know everyone says this, but I want to be famous someday. :P
I can't find any auditions nearby. I've been looking all over for them. All I've been able to find are modeling auditions. I'm not a model, nor do I look much like one.
I believe in myself, but it's tough when there aren't any opportunities for me. The town I live in is very small and nothing really happens. There was a movie filmed at a house near mine a year or so ago, but they didn't need any extras so I couldn't really do anything there. I don't know what to do.
Please email me if you can help.
--Lily

Posted by Lily (2011-02-19) 2888

hey guys ..i live in Cincinnati i been looking around for acting schools to get experience but cant find one..am not looking to start big. i want to start simple with a school where they can teach me the most important main thing about acting. i love acting and love been in front of the camera. i wish i can just go to auditions and learn something but how can i when i dint even got my resume for acting. or i have no experience. please if someone know a good acting college/ school in Cincinnati please let me know...is very hard for me when i got people thinking i wont make it and my parents mostly not even helping me.. please someone out there help me.. i just wish to know of a good school where i can start and that's all.. working hard and doing my best i can do that... i believe in myself and trust myself that i can act ...all started with this guy i met in a theater( i forgot his name) but he was acting and i was 18 now am 20 but anyways i told him i wanted to act.. he seriously told me to act in front of him of anything.. i acted that i was losing a friend and i got so into the emotions he even thought i was very good with getting into my emotions and feelings he told me i can make it but since then ...me trying to find a school to get better and get help ..seems like no body cares which i have not giving up and i wont either but i need help and if someone can help me...please that's all am asking for help to get my acting career starting now...time clicks.. life is short...i want to at least be happy and say that i made it before who knows when i can be gone...

Posted by Olivari (2010-12-01) 2798

i want to be an actress. plain and simple. and i need help, i have family support, but i need to go to auditions. i dont know where to find out if there is any, i live in virginia. if anybody out there that can give me information/avdice anything, this is my dream and ill do whatever it takes to make it happen.

e-mail me please.
Megan

Posted by Megan Morris (2010-09-26) 2718

ibelive ican be a star if some one give me the ill take it

Posted by jordan gordon (2010-08-16) 2675

hello am 22 yrs old am from easet africa eritrea i wanna be an actor my fellings become highr and highr 4 zat fild what i can do now and i start little course about zat

Posted by temesegen (2010-06-24) 2610

Hey! im 14 years old and i want to be a actor. but i have no idea to get started, I have been in plays and my drama club before but nothing major! can you help m e out??

Posted by Sydnee (2010-06-21) 2599

Hey! im 14 years old and i want to be a actor. but i have no idea to get started, I have been in plays and my drama club before but nothing major! can you help m e out??

Posted by Sydnee (2010-06-21) 2598

I have always wanted to be an actor but I don't have the guts to tell my parents and I need advice on how I can let them know without actually telling them

Posted by Aaron (2010-06-14) 2588

Hi, My name is Amber and i want to become an actor I am 22 years old and I honestly have NO experience. I have always wanted to take acting classes since I was young. But now I have 2 kids, Am I to old and is it to late now that I have kids? I live in a really small town in WASHINGTON and there isnt anything out there, AROUND HERE! Ive been saving some money to go to CA for my head shots and they will give me an agent, but will it be worth it?
PLEASE E-MAIL ME BACK
thanks so much AMBER

Posted by Amber (2010-04-18) 2480

Hi, I'm a 43yr. old filipino male born and raised in an inner city neighborhood of Norfolk Va. aodpted at 2 months old by a wonderful African-American family. I can't exactly remember when I discovered that they were not my biological parents but at about 5yrs. old I began to wonder why I didn't have the features of everyone else in the neighborhood.(All African-Americans) I became to be very self conscience about my features. I wanted to look like everybody else.To make a long story short, I did everything that I could think of at an early age to let kids know that" hey" I'm like ya'll, I just look a little different.Actually I thought to myself that I looked a whole lot different and I guess I did with the straight hair and slanted eyes. In my big neighborhood I had to learn to be outspoken or so I thought ,so the other kids would see that I would not be the outcast or butt of jokes and what do you know, I was embraced and stood out in a way that I was deemed as a local celebrity.I loved the attention especially when the girls said,he's cute.(HaHa) I beleived then that I was natural actor and I couldn't wait to one day let the whole world know that Anthony "Tone Tone" Taylor had arrived. Well I'm 43 now and although things didn't work out like I would have liked,I'm a firm believer that it's NEVER too late. It's not enough room here to write everything I would like to say but I'm convinced that if I put my all-n-all into pursuing which I love,which is performing,I won't just be successful but an outstanding actor ;all the time spreading the love.Yea, I desire to be the best I can be as an actor and person. To be honest, beside acting in plays and musicals from 1st. to 5th. grades, I've had no other experience except in 2003 when I walked on a movie set that was being shot in McArthur Park.It was called "Havoc" starring Anne Hathaway and Bijou Phillips. I played the part of a drug dealer and although I didn't have any lines, I enjoyed being in front of the camera and actually had a close-up shot.(Walking towards the camera with my shirt off,selling marijuana to a passenger of a car)And guess what? I haven't even seen the movie.I will go find it now! I have the fever now. I just need some directions,and thats one thing I know I'm good at now. I do know also that I need help. Somebody out there hear me. Can't Stop,Won't Stop Much Love

Posted by Anthony Taylor (2010-02-04) 2328

I am doing an open call with Wilhelmina UTG next Tuesday, however, I am fully unprepared. I signed up today because of a sudden urge, but as I have been searching online I have come to realize that I have no sufficient photo, or resume, and I do not have a clue as to what to do when the time comes. Being inexperienced, the process of an open call is alien to me and I do not know how to prepare when there is nothing to memorize and to act from. My question for you is: how do I do an open call, when I am clearly inexperience on the process and have no information to provide for the agency?

Posted by Nichole (2009-08-07) 1904

I am 23 years old and I honestly have NO experience. I have always wanted to take acting classes since I was young. Is it to late for me?

Posted by hhester20 (2009-04-19) 1329

I really want to ecome a actress, but I live in a small town where nothing big happens. How do I become a real actress?

Posted by emma (2009-02-24) 1056

I've been trying every step of that for many years and i still havent even got one stepg further.. i think i do have want it takes commitment and a hard worker, buti havent got anywhere. It doesnt help that i live in Australia and there isnt much opotunities.
any more advice?

Posted by Tabitha (2009-01-30) 951

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